SEO is ever changing and evolving. What do we need to do to keep our visitors interested? Will it optimize rankings at the same time? To understand your SEO better, let us dissect the reader-friendly pillar page and how incredibly useful it has become to your search rankings.
In 2013, Google changed the search game yet again with the launch of Hummingbird. Before, optimization meant creating a page or a blog post for each major keyword to match searches. Now, we have pillar pages, topic clusters, and subtopics in place.
Pillar pages focus on search engine optimization and traffic acquisition. It is a page where one broad topic is discussed and includes links to related content or subcategories of that topic. Then, those pages link directly back to the pillar page. Pillar pages contain what is called a ‘topic cluster’. A topic cluster gives marketers the ease they need to find all things related to one topic.
For example, if your pillar page is about American football, your topic cluster is American Football. Your subtopic titles on this pillar page can include- Leagues, Game Rules, History of Football, National and International Acclaim, Fantasy Football, etc. The list is almost endless with the amount of information publicly available on a subject as broad as football. Think about your pillar page topic and the immensity of information available online pertaining to it. Your job is to consolidate, streamline, and hyperlink to your site pages and external sources that dive deeper into the subtopics of your topic cluster.
Pillar pages are still being tried and tested by the leaders in SEO, however, the following is a breakdown of elements, step-by-step, that are proven to work. Let’s start with your main website.
The function of a pillar page on your website is to get visitors to be able to continue through a journey after they arrive. On your pillar page, cover all possible aspects of your topic cluster. Then, identify all major keywords that can fit under the umbrella of that cluster topic. Finally, add hyperlinks to pages or blogs that easily lead back to the pillar page.
You now have the opportunity for visitors to remember your pillar page as the convenient central point where all pertinent information is linked so they can easily toggle back and forth. You made obtaining information from you very efficient and, you’ve made Google happy.
It’s still all about keywords. The title of your page is strictly SEO oriented. Don’t pour your creativity in the title. Be strategic. Make your title as to-the-point as possible so people who see your page title on their search results page (SERP) will click your hyperlink and find exactly what they searched for. Examples:
SEO Copywriting: The Ultimate Guide
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Pillar page content strategy is to build a lengthy page where visitors can scroll, skim, and identify specific subtopics. Use larger font to introduce subtopics. Add statistics, quotes, and images to supplement your paragraphs. Think of it as a longer than usual blog.
Each subtopic section on your pillar page is often used to introduce that certain topic but, you can repeat some of this content when your reader clicks the hyperlink(s) to reach the more detailed subtopic page. Don’t hesitate to make each section as substantial as possible.
But, you don’t want to overwhelm your reader on your pillar page. This is why links are essential in each subtopic section. First, your subtopic title should contain keywords that lead your reader to a section containing the specific information they are looking for. The content under that title should effectively intrigue your reader to learn further by clicking through. Take, for example, this HubSpot pillar page to study the delicate balance achieved with providing just enough information in each section to peak interest and not filling every single section with links.
Navigational links are handled differently throughout our studies of leading SEO pillar pages. An engenius example is the strategy used by HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth and SEO, Matthew Barby
This page gives us goosebumps with the amount of SEO tips it includes. The beginning section of his pillar page lacks promotional links. His intent is seen to tactfully place links that are relevant and seamless in each of his subtopic sections. Take note of CTA statements that include links rather than distracting the reader mid paragraph with hyperlinked words.
Be transparent. If you do not have every piece of information that readers are looking for that should be contained under your keyword specific title, blatantly link them to other reliable sources. Transparency is the name of the game. Furthermore, by placing external links on your pillar page, you are signaling search engines and will rank higher.
Just as Matthew Barby utilized CTA’s as the perfect place to add links. Kill two birds with one stone. Action-driven verbiage will incite your reader to seek further information. Lead them to the content that relates to your brand, and ultimately create awareness to your company solutions.
The bottom section of a pillar page has great real estate to place call-to-actions or any of the following items: link to a landing page, downloadable content such as spec-sheets or e-books. It’s the perfect spot to capture your lead.
Add a PDF link in a CTA and place it in the header, intro, and/or end navigation from your pillar page. Placing multiple is a benefit to you. A person may click because they are interested in more details or because they have hit a dead end and were about to turn away when they see that there is a PDF to gather more information that could help further.
Remember to add a footer to your pillar page as you would to any other page on your site. This is important for SEO while linking visitors to all the major pages of your site. Thus, increasing your search ranking and being very helpful.
Content linking strategy
An effective pillar page will present long-form un-gated content for those readers who want to gather a wide range of information pertaining to one broad topic. Simultaneously, it presents gateways to detailed segments.
First, you are implementing helpful subject matter that boosts your SEO scores. Second, you are giving the opportunity to your sales and marketing teams to generate leads from the increased number of click-throughs to your specified content.
Your specified, detailed, exclusive content that is reached from clicking hyperlinks on your pillar page can help you convert prospects into buyers. Seize the opportunity by linking readers to content that is specific to your brand. Allow them to download content or view spec sheets of your products and services that further answer their queries with YOUR company solutions.
A pillar page for your blogs
Alternatively, a pillar page can be on the same server as your blogs, include a blog-like title, images, and specific blog articles related to the cluster topic. The pillar page would be much longer than the blogs and articles it links to. This indicates to Google that your blogs are a part of the same pillar. Again, strengthening your SEO strategy.
Two other linking strategies to consider is adding an RSS feed at the bottom of your pillar page with related article links and/or add sponsored content with a co-marketing partner. For example, add an image to your content that has a plus-sign menu on it. Click it and it leads to your sponsor’s content.
Keep up SEO strategies that are tried and true and cut down trial and error time from your marketing and content manufacturing team. This doesn’t mean you won’t have some testing to do to find what suits your specific audience.
There is not just one way to build a pillar page.
Always check and periodically reevaluate what strategies are working for your company. Building a pillar page with substantial content is all you need. But, the elements suggested here are so you can hit the ground running. Use these proven strategies to supplement your SEO strategy and engage your readers further, increasing your lead generation, credibility and productivity.